Part of me was expecting Lukas Graham’s self-titled studio debut to be a surprise hit. I had only listened to “7 Years” which is destined to top the charts any week now, and I was in love with it. Over time the song has started to become a little dull to me but I still think it is one of the best songs on the charts now. I liked the sweet and sincere tone of the song, it just seems much more precious and personal than most songs you hear on mainstream radio now.
I guess it would be unfair to say that this was a bad preview for the album. Most of the songs here follow this same pattern, focusing on family and fame, typical stuff for new artists to write about. My problem is that much of this album is poorly written and lacks any form of subtlety. “7 Years,” the best song on here, sets the bar fairly high, delivering some of the most heartfelt lyrics on this record. After this, songs like “Mama Said” and “Happy Home” just seem to have no real purpose. They seem to be just treading the same waters. “Mama Said” is particularly annoying to me, featuring a chorus by a group of children, which is usually nails on a chalkboard for me.
The personal subject matter just makes it even more jarring when the album takes a turn for the more humorous on some of the tracks here. We go from “Happy Home” to “Drunk in the Morning” a pretty trashy song about lead singer Lukas Graham Forchhammer trying to hook up with girls while drunk. To make things worse he does not even seem to know who he called just making it that much classier. I guess the production here is more interesting than the other tracks but that is all I can say about this.
The same goes for “Strip No More” a song that is clearly trying to be a joke but just fails completely. Here, Forchhammer is upset a stripper he meets does not strip anymore. This song is honestly one of the more obnoxious I have heard all year and the amount of cockiness that is presented here completely undermines the emotional base this album was building itself on.
This arrogance carries onto the closer, “Funeral,” a song where Forchhammer thinks about how when he dies he wants to look all dressed up and nice and for everyone to get drunk and celebrate his life. This seems like an odd attitude towards death, considering the repeated mentions of his deceased father that are brought up in a sorrowful tone. I am not saying that he needs to be happy about losing his dad, I would be devastated if I were him, it just does not fit together on the same album.
Now that I got my biggest criticisms out of the way, I will give credit where it is due. “Take the World By Storm” is a song that showcases confidences rather than arrogance and works because of that. It shows a band that is ready to make it big and break free from just being local talent and become international stars.
“Better Than Yourself (Criminal Mind Pt. 2)” is another great example of a personal track, with Forchhammer singing about a close friend of his who is currently in prison. We get insight into the difficulties of keeping in touch with someone who is serving time, and how upsetting it is to think that they are guilty, no matter how badly you want them to be innocent. The most emotion is definitely in this track with Forchhammer delivering some excellent vocal work here.
Besides these few tracks, nothing stood out to me as particularly great or even memorable. The production is largely nothing special, the lyrics require almost no deep thought, it is just all out there. There is definitely an audience for this kind of stuff, it just is not me. I had very little connection with this album and do not really recommend much outside of the few good songs I mentioned. With better writers and producers I could see Lukas Graham moving forward with some great stuff. Until then, I will likely not put much thought into this band.
Best Tracks: 7 Years, Take the World By Storm, Better Than Yourself (Criminal Mind Pt. 2)